Good news: Jim Paschke tweets that Carlos Delfino will be back tonight after missing the last three games with jaw and neck soreness. Carlos' sense of humor also appears to be back to 100%:
Just asked C. Delfino if he was clear headed enough to do an interview and he said, "Who are you?" He will play tonight in Charlotte.
The Bucks lead the Heat by half a game for fifth in the East, and lead Charlotte by two games.
By one very important and revealing measure, the Bobcats are the most similar/even team in the NBA to the Bucks. Charlotte has a +1.6 point per game scoring differential on the season, compared to +1.5 for Milwaukee.
The Bobcats are blocked on 8.03 % of their field goal attempts, the highest percentage in the NBA. Andrew Bogut has seven blocks in two games this season against Charlotte. He didn't play in the first matchup.
The home team has quite predictably won each of the first three head-to-head matchups this season. After all, Charlotte (28-9) and Milwaukee (26-11) are two of the better home teams out there, and the Bobcats still have the greatest discrepancy between home record (28-9) and road record (11-26) in the NBA.
The 95-88 way back on Nov. 21 at the BC, Charlotte won 94-84 at home just before the New Year, and Milwaukee won 93-88 on Feb. 21. If Charlotte wins tonight the two teams would be tied in the head-to-head category, but the Bucks would still have the playoff seeding tie-breaker by virtue of their slightly better conference record (27-18 vs. 23-23).beat the Bobcats
This is the final night of a five-game homestand for the Bobcats. They have won two of the first three, having lost only to the Raptors, 103-101.
Brandon Jennings, fresh off his fourth Eastern Conference rookie-of-the-month award, has played quite well in all three games thus far against the Bobcats, averaging 24.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists on 45.6 % shooting from the field.
But he didn't play much at all in the team's loss in Cleveland on Wednesday. Brandon's 18:43 marked his second fewest minutes of 2010. Skiles rode Ridnour (11 points, 11 assists) for 29 minutes including the whole fourth quarter. Ridnour did well, though that final pass to LeBron James (rather than John Salmons) sealed the team's fate.
Don't get too worked up about Skiles pulling Jennings though. On the season, Jennings has played the most minutes of any Buck, 250 more than second-place Bogut. And though Jennings has played in seven more games than Bogut, he also leads the big man in mpg (32.8 to 32.5). Scott Skiles insists on playing the guys who give him the best chance to win, regardless of stature, experience, or salary. I think after we can all agree on that. The fact that Jennings has played by far the most minutes of anyone tells you a lot about his overall game this season, as well as his durability.
The lack of points.
Neither team has reached 100 points (Milwaukee scored 95 in the first game) in the first three matchups, largely a byproduct of the slow pace of the games. Charlotte is one of the slowest teams in the NBA, and indeed, possessions have been limited: 91, 97, and 93 total possessions in the first three games respectively. Combine that with the fact that these are two of the top four defenses in the NBA, and there isn't much reason to expect many more points tonight. Although, Charlotte has hit triple digits in four straight.
As a rookie in 1995-96, Theo Ratliff averaged 4.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. Now, 15 years later, Ratliff is averaging 5.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks.
Free throw rate.
Coming off a game in which the Bucks sent Cleveland to the free throw line 45 times, you might be displeased to learn that Charlotte has the second highest free throw rate (free throws attempted / field goals attempted) in the NBA.
This is completely unrelated to the game, but... a couple weeks ago, former Bucks center Zaza Pachulia wore a jersey with his name misspelled "Pcahulia." After the game, Peachtree Hoops blogger hawksdawgs offered his house to anyone who could get him the jersey. Naturally, Pachulia gave him the jersey, and didn't even demand the house. Posted yesterday, this story is not an April Fool's joke.